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Chapter 16: The Master's doings at Brindaban

Dancing thus the Master reached the village of Arith, where He suddenly recovered His senses. He asked the people about the Radha pool (kunda); but they knew it not, nor did the Brahman guide. But the omniscient discovered the hidden tirthas and bathed in shallow pools in two rice-fields. The villagers wondered at the spectacle. The Master began to praise the Radha pool in love: "Radha is dearest to Krishna among all the milk-maids. So is the Radha-kunda dear (to him) as the bathing-place of his darling. In this pool Krishna ever sported in the water with Radha and on the bank he dallied in the rasa dance. Whosoever bathes once here gets from Krishna a love rivalling that of Radha. The pool is charming like Radha's self; its glory is great like Radha's."

Recollecting Krishna's acts in the pool, He danced in rapture on the bank, and painted His forehead with its mud. Bhattacharya took a little of the mud. Next, the Master went to the Suman tank. At the sight of the Govardhan hill He was affected, prostrated Himself before it, and madly embraced a rock. In a frenzy of devotion He proceeded to the village of Govardhan, where he bowed to the god Hari-dev, the first incarnation of Narayan, who dwelt on the western edge of Mathura. Before the god He danced in rapture, the people at the wondrous news flocking to see Him, and admiring His beauty and devotion. The attendant of the image entertained Him. Bhattacharya cooked in the Brahma-kunda and the Master bathed, dined, and passed the night in the temple. At night He cogitated, "No, I must not ascend Govardhan. How then can I get the sight of Gopal?" He remained silent over the matter, but Gopal knowing His mind, played a trick. The god Gopal was installed at Anna-kut, a village of the Rajputs. Some one informed the headman at night that the Turks were arming to sack the village, and so they should all flee at night with their god. The villagers in alarm first transferred Gopal to the Ganthuli village, where the god was worshipped in secret in a Brahman's house. Then they all fled, leaving the village empty. Thus did Gopal migrate repeatedly in fear of the Muslims, being removed from temple to bower or to another village.

In the morning the Master after bathing in the Manas Ganga, set out to walk round Govardhan. Moved to rapture at the sight of the hill, He advanced dancing and chanting the verses, Bhagabat, X. xxi. 18.

Bathing at the Govinda-kunda and other holy spots, He learnt that Gopal had gone to Ganthuli, whither He proceeded to see the god, before whom He danced and sang in a transport of devotion. Moved by Gopal's beauty He recited a shloka and danced till the close of the day.

For three days did He view Gopal; on the fourth day Gopal came away with Him, as He walked singing and dancing, and went back to his former temple [on the hill], while the Master stayed at the foot of it. The people in delight cheered aloud Hari! Hari! Thus does the tender Gopal descend from the hill on some pretext, in order to show himself to the devotee who passionately longs to see him and yet declines to set foot upon Govardhan. Thus did he appear to Rup and Sanatan. When Rup was too old to walk and yet longed to see Gopal's charms, the god took refuge for a month in the Vithaleshwar temple at Mathura in fear of the Muslims. Then Rup with his disciples saw him there for a month. [Rup's disciples named]. After a month Gopal went back to his temple, while Rup returned to Brindaban.

Then the Master visited the Kamya forest, and all other places in Brindaban in the manner described before. Thence to Nandishwar, at the sight of whom He fell into an ecstasy. After bathing in the Paban and other pools, He climbed the hill and asked if there was any temple on the top. Being directed by the local people, He entered the cave and there beheld the image of the fair dancing Child between his robust parents. He bowed at the feet of Nanda and Yashoda, and in rapture touched all the limbs of the child Krishna. After dancing and singing there all day, He visited the Khadir wood, the Vishnu reposing on the Sesha Snake, Khela-tirtha, the Bhandir wood, the Bhadra wood (across the Jamuna), the Shri-ban, the Ivauha-ban, the Maha-ban, (the birth-place of Radha), where He beheld the site of the killing of Yamalarjun, to the over flowing of His love. After visiting Gokul He returned to Mathura. Here He stayed at that Brahman's house, visiting Krishna's birth-shrine; but He left Mathura on account of its press of people and dwelt in seclusion at Akrur-tirtha.

Another day He visited Brindaban, bathed in the Kaliya lake and Praskandan. From the Twelve Suns (Dwadash Aditya) He went to the Kashi tirtha. At the place of rasa He fainted away in love, and on recovering rolled on the ground, laughed, wept, danced, recited verses, and sang. In such deeds was the day spent there, in the evening He returned to Akrur for breakfast.

Next morning He bathed at the Chiraghat of Brindaban, and rested under a very ancient tamarind tree of the age of Krishna's exploits, with a smooth platform built round its trunk. Close by flowed the Jamuna; cool breezes blew; the water of the Jamuna gazed at the beauty of Brindaban. After singing the holy names under the tamarind tree, the Master performed His noonday prayer and breakfasted at Akrur. The people of the village crowded in such numbers to see Him that He could not dance freely. So He came back to Brindaban, and sitting apart sang the holy names till noon. In the third quarter of the day He appeared to the people and advised them all to make sankirtan of Krishna's name.

Then arrived a Vaishnav, of the Rajput race, named Krishna-das, a householder living in a village on the other side of the Jamuna. After bathing in the Keshighat he was going to the Kali lake when he suddenly beheld a holy man sitting under the tamarind tree. Admiring the beauty and fervour of the Master, he bowed to Him in devotion. To the Master's query as to who he was, he replied, "I am a miserable householder, a Rajput from across the river. I long to be servant to a Vaishnav. Last night in sleep I saw a vision which exactly agrees with you." As the Master graciously embraced him, the Rajput mad with love danced crying Hari! Hari! He followed the Master at noon to the Akrur-tirtha and ate His leavings. Next morning he bore the Master's water-pot [to Brindaban] and kept His company, leaving his wife, children and home.

Everywhere men began to say that Krishna had again appeared at Brindaban. One morning the citizens of Mathura were returning from Brindaban with a great noise, when the Master met them and asked them whence they were coming. They replied, "Krishna has appeared in the water of the Kali-daha lake. He is dancing on the hood of the snake Kaliya, whose jewel is flashing in the water. We have seen it with our own eyes. It is beyond doubt." The Master smiled and remarked, "It is all very true." Thus for three nights people flocked there, all saying on their return that they had beheld Krishna. When they said in the Master's presence that they had seen Krishna, Saraswati indeed moved them to speak the truth, for in seeing Him they were beholding the true Krishna; while they were neglecting the real before their eyes in order to behold the unreal [apparition of Krishna in the lake]. When Bhattacharya begged leave to behold Krishna there, the Master slapped him and said, "You are a learned man, and yet you have turned a fool, believing the story of fools! Why should Krishna appear in that lake? Fools in their delusion are making a fuss [about nothing]. Don't lose your senses. Stay at home. To-morrow at night go and see Krishna."

In the morning a quiet man came to the Master, and He asked him if he had seen Krishna. The man replied, "A fisherman was catching fish in the lake with a lamp in his boat. People seeing him from a distance mistook him for Krishna dancing on the snake; the boat was regarded as the snake's hood, and the lamp as its crown-jewel! True, Krishna has come to Brindaban, but it is not true that the people have seen him. Far from seeing him they are holding a false notion, just as an imbecile [sthanu] man takes things in a contrary light." The Master asked, "Where have you seen Krishna?" The man replied, "You are a sannyasi a walking Narayan. You have come to Brindaban, as the incarnation of Krishna, to deliver all men by your appearance." The Master invoked God in horror and cried, "Say not so! Never regard this, the humblest of creatures, as Krishna. A sannyasi is a particle of chit, a creature is like a single ray of light; but Krishna, full of all the six powers, is like the Sun. A creature and the Creator can never be equal, any more than a blazing fire and a solitary spark can be. The fool who speaks of a creature as equal to God is a sinner, destined to be punished by Yama."

The man replied, "You have not the human mind. Your appearance and character are like Krishna's. In form you resemble the Son of Braja's lord; your bright complexion eclipses your yellow robe. The musk's fragrance cannot be concealed even if it is tied up in a cloth; so too your Godly nature cannot be kept hidden. Supernatural is your character, your wisdom unfathomable, the sight of you has driven the world mad with the love of Krishna. Woman, child, old man, a Chandal, or even a Muslim,--whosoever once beholds you, dances madly, chanting Krishna's name. He becomes a teacher unto others and converts the world. Not to speak of seeing you, the mere hearing of your name throws a man into a frenzy of devotion to Krishna and makes him a spiritual deliverer to all others. Your name sanctifies even Chandals. Super human are your powers,--beyond description. Vide Bhagabat, III. xxxiii. 6. Such is your glory, you have the attributes of detachment. Your form and attributes prove you to be Krishna!"

The Master favoured these men, and they returned home wild with love. Thus did He stay a few days at Akrur, saving men by imparting to them the love of Krishna's name. That disciple of Madhav Puri invited every householder in Mathura. The people of Mathura, Brahmans and good men, in parties of ten or twenty every day invited Bhattacharya, who could accept only one of the invitations. The people, getting no opportunity of giving dinners, pressed that Brahman to accept their hospitality. Kanauji, Deccani, and Vaidik Brahmans all humbly asked the Master to dinner. They came to Akrur in the morning, cooked, offered the food to the Shalgram, and fed the Master on it. One day, sitting on the Akrur ghat, the Master reflected, "Here did Aknir see Vaikuntha, and the people of Brindaban got a view of heaven. So saying He jumped into the water; Krishna-das set up a loud lamentation; Bhattacharya hurried there and dragged the Master out. Then he took secret counsel with the (local) Brahman, saying, "The Master was rescued only because I was at hand. But if He is drowned at Brindaban who will save Him? Here we have crowds of visitors and the plague of invitation every day. It is not good for Him to be constantly in an ecstasy. The best plan would be to remove Him from Brindaban." The Brahman (host) replied, "Let us take Him to Prayag; we shall enjoy the journey along the bank of the Ganges. You should ask His consent to bathe in the Ganges at Soron and then start with Him by the same route. It is now the month of Magh; if we start now, we shall reach Prayag in time for bathing during Capricorn. After saying something of your own sorrows, broach to him the request to lead you to Prayag during Capricorn. Tell Him also of the joy of following the bank of the Ganges."

Then Bhattacharva besought the Master thus "I cannot bear this disturbance by the people. They worry me to accept their invitations. When people come in the morning and fail to find you, they plague me to death. I shall be happy if I follow the bank of the Ganges, and starting now reach Prayag in time for bathing in Capricorn. My mind is restless. I cannot bear [our life here]. I submit to whatever the Master may be pleased to command." Though unwilling to leave Brindaban, the Master, to gratify His bhakta, said sweetly, "Never shall I be able to repay my debt to you for your having escorted me to Brindaban. I shall do your wish. Take me wherever you desire."

In the morninq-He bathed and became overcome with devotion at the thought of leaving Brindaban. Unconscious of the things outside, He fell into a trance of love. Bhattacharya took Him in a boat across the river to Maha-ban. The devoted Krishna-das and that Brahman knew the route along the Ganges. On the way He sat down under a tree with His party, in order to refresh them from fatigue. Many cows were grazing there, and the sight filled Him with delight. Suddenly a cowherd played on his flute, and at once rapture seized the Master; He fell down in a swoon, foaming at the mouth and His breathing stopped.

Just then ten Pathan cavalrymen arrived there, dismounted, and gazing at the Master jumped to the conclusion that His five companions were sharpers who had poisoned Him with dhutura in order to rob Him of His gold. So they tied up the five and threatened to behead them. The Bengalis began to tremble; only the Rajput Krishna-das was fearless and that Brahman bold of speech. The Brahman cried out, Tathan! I appeal to your Padshah! Take me with you to the shikdar. This hermit is my guru; I am a Brahman of Mathura. I have a hundred acquaintances at the royal Court. This hermit has a disease which makes Him fall down in a fit. He will soon recover consciousness. Wait a little here. Keep us tied up. After inquiring of Him, slay us if we deserve. The Pathan replied, "You two are up-country men; here are three Bengali thugs quaking in fear." Krishna-das said, "I live in this village, with 100 troopers and 200 bowmen under me. If I raise a shout they will come here, kill you, and take away your horses and accoutrement. The Bengalis are not sharpers. You are rogues, as you want to rob pilgrims and to kill them!" At this the Pathan hesitated. Just then the Master came to His senses, rose up with a shout of Hari! Hari! and danced in rapture with uplifted arms.

His devotional cry pierced the heart of the Muslim, who in fear released the five, so that the Master saw not the captivity of His followers. Bhattacharya held and seated the Master, who became aware of the things around Him when He saw the Muslims. The Pathans bowed at His feat and charged the five with having poisoned Him with dhutura. But He replied, "They are not thugs, but my companions. I am a begging hermit, with no wealth to be robbed. Occasionally I fall into epileptic fits, when these five kindly nurse me." One of the Muslims, a grave man clad in black and called a Pin, was melted at heart on seeing the Master. He propounded monotheism and one common God, on the basis of his holy book (viz., the Quran). But the Master refuted all his propositions by arguments based on the Muslim scripture, till the man was silenced. The Master continued, "Your scripture establishes one common God [in the beginning] and refuting that theory sets up in the end a particular God, who is full of all powers, dark of hue, the embodiment of sat, chit and ananda, the perfect Spirit, the soul of all, all-pervading, eternal, the self of every thing, the source of creation life and destruction, the refuge of all universes whether gross or fine, the most excellent, adorable by all, the first cause of everything. Men are saved by faith in Him,, and freed from the bondage of the world only by serving Him. Delight in Him is the supreme human attainment, while salvation can give only a particle of that bliss. The highest beatitude comes only from serving His feet. After first insisting on work, knowledge and mental abstraction, these are then set aside and the service of God is laid down as the final duty. Your theologians have no knowledge of their own scriptures; they forget that where there are two injunctions, the latter is sronger. Decide after studying your own holy books, and see what is laid down as the final conclusion."

The Muslim replied, "True are your words. Men cannot realize God as described in the scriptures. They discourse on the abstract God (Gosain); nobody thinks of adoring the incarnate God. You are such, God's own self. Have mercy on me, unworthy sinner! Much have I read, but cannot ascertain the sadhya and sadhan from the Muslim scriptures. At the sight of you my tongue utters Krishna's name, and I have been cured of my proud confidence in my own knowledge. Tell me graciously what are sadhya and sadhan." So saying he fell at the Master's feet, who said, "Rise! In repeating Krishna's name you have been washed pure from the sins of million births. Say Krishna! Krishna!" They chanted the name and were filled with rapture. The Master renamed him Ramdas.

There was another Pathan named Bijuli Khan, a young Prince and the master of Ramdas and other Pathan troopers. He too fell down at the Master's feet, with the cry of Krishna! The Master touched his head with His toe, and went on His way. All the Pathans turned bairagis and were famous as "Pathan Vaishnavs." They roamed everywhere singing the Master's praise. The Bijuli Khan became a very spiritual person honoured in every tirtha.

At Soron He bathed in the Ganges and walked along the river bank to Prayag. When He dismissed the Mathura Brahman and Krishna-das, they begged with folded palms, "Let us follow you to Prayag. Where again shall we see your feet? It is a Muslim country, you may be oppressed anywhere. Your companion, Bhattacharya, is a mere pandit and does not know how to address people." The Master smilingly consented and they followed Him. Everyone who beheld Him turned frantic with love and sang sankirtan aloud. They communicated their faith to others, and these to others again, so that the whole land became Vaishnav, just as the Master had previously converted the South during His pilgrimage.

So walking He reached Prayag, where He bathed for ten days at the junction of the three rivers during the sun's progress through Capricorn. [Text, canto 18.]